Sports

Fish, Fur, Fowl: Only the hardy fish in winter

By Ed Oldham

Area 9 opened for fishing Jan. 16 with a two-hatchery blackmouth limit and initial reports have been encouraging. Several anglers have reported catching fish in the 7- to-10-pound range.

Area 7 will be open Feb. 1, also with a two-hatchery blackmouth limit.

Spoons have been the tool of choice to hook into one of these local fish. Try green or cop car-colored coyote spoons, 42- to-60-inches behind a flasher and troll in the bottom 10 feet of the water column.

Plugs are also doing fairly well for those that do not like to use a flasher. It sure makes the fight interesting not having to battle the flasher as well as the fish.

Speed is another key element. Blackmouth like it slow, about 2- to-4-miles per hour, and I tend to keep my downrigger cable at the popular 45-degree mark. It seems to work the best for me.

Areas 8-1 and 8-2, which have been open for quite a while, have also been reporting success. Reports have come in from anglers who said they were doing well off the green can just out of Oak Harbor.

This time of year, though, is only for the die-hard anglers. Weather can change in an instant, so keep one eye on your rod and another on the weather.

River anglers are reporting things are slowing down for winter steelhead. With the Cascade River closed so the hatchery can get their eggs, you are pretty much limited to the upper portion of the Skagit.

Still, you can’t beat this time of the year for going up there. This is when all the bald eagles congregate on the Skagit near Marblemount, and can make a poor day’s fishing worth the trip down the river.

For a little lighter action, you can go to the Oak Harbor Marina or Cornet Bay and try your luck on smelt. It is a hit or miss fishery, but you will see many loyal anglers out there braving the elements.

Duck hunters have until Jan. 27 to fill their freezers. After that, hunters will have to wait until spring for any real action to start.

Be sure to make your big game reports to the WDFW. To submit reports, hunters may either complete a form online at https://fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov/ or call the toll-free line at 1-877-945-3492.

Speaking of reports, for those that still have their winter crab catch cards, you should have submitted your reports on Jan. 15.

But there are numerous instances of folks trying to make reports on line, only to find out the WDFW says you do not have a catch card on file. I am one of those, so I just mailed mine in. If you haven’t submitted your report, I would suggest doing it now.

Until next time, be safe out there and make sure you dress warm.

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